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Jenni Ives, a partner at Stinson Leonard Street, was once a clerk for U.S. District Court Judge David Doty. (File photo: Bill Klotz)
Jenni Ives, a partner at Stinson Leonard Street, was once a clerk for U.S. District Court Judge David Doty. (File photo: Bill Klotz)

Breaking the Ice: Human aspect of employment law adds appeal

Name: Jenni Ives

Title: Partner, Stinson Leonard Street

Education: B.A., Northwestern University, gender studies and political science; J.D., University of Minnesota Law School

Jenni Ives’ employment law practice involves learning the unique aspects of various businesses and using her expertise in conducting internal investigations to examine sexual harassment and other claims.

What Ives, a partner at Stinson Leonard Street, especially likes, though, is the human element.

“It’s a way to understand people and what drives their relationships with other people, co-workers, their bosses and their relationship to their work,” Ives said. “I like the personal feel of it and the ability to help people solve problems.”

Ives took a number of labor and employment classes in law school. As a clerk for U.S. District Court Judge David Doty, she estimates that more than half of the cases she saw then involved employment law.

Ives and four other Stinson Leonard Street attorneys were named 2013 Attorneys of the Year by Minnesota Lawyer in a case resulting in a $22 million court award.

Q. What’s the best way to start a conversation with you?

A. I have three kids so anything that relates to kids is something that’s very present in my life.

Q. What prompted you to study law and pursue it professionally?

A. I’m the first attorney in my family. I was curious about becoming a lawyer to help other people. My mom is a teacher so she has always helped other people and that’s an important value that I grew up with.

Q. What books are on your bedside table or e-reader?

A. I recently read a book by a local author, Emily Fridlund, called, “The History of Wolves.”

Q. What is a pet peeve of yours?

A. I’m a pretty easy-going person. My main pet peeve would be when people are needlessly unkind.

Q. What are your favorite aspects of being an attorney?

A. It’s very satisfying to help solve a problem for my clients, especially proactively before litigation starts. It’s also satisfying to work with clients to try to better their workplaces and to proactively and positively make choices and decisions that set them up for success.

Q. Least favorite?

A. I enjoy talking to my clients and helping them. Clients may dread picking up the phone to call an attorney whether it’s because of the cost or the gravity of the issue. I try to help my clients realize that we work together as partners. I’m there to partner with them not just because a bad situation arises and they need legal help but to proactively set up their policies or business practices to avoid those situations.

Q. What’s a favorite activity outside your job?

A. I have an active family, so we spend a lot of time outside in the Minneapolis park system. I’m an avid biker and runner and I enjoy bird watching here in Minneapolis, throughout Minnesota and in international places.

Q. If someone visits you in your hometown, what would you take them to see or do?

A. I grew up in Eagan, but a lot of the fun things that I would take someone to do would be in Minneapolis, like biking on the Chain of Lakes or the Grand Rounds.

Q. Is there an attorney or judge, past or present, whom you admire most?

A. I very much admire Judge [David] Doty, whom I clerked for. He has dedicated most of his career to public service. He is a former Marine and has remained very active in the bar. I very much admire how he makes the law accessible and is very welcoming and not intimidating to other people.

Q. What’s a misconception people have about working as an attorney?

A. People often view attorneys as battling each other. Of course our job is to be zealous advocates for our clients. But I feel fortunate that in the legal practice in the Twin Cities, attorneys are very professional and have mutual respect. Even in a litigated matter, when both sides are willing to compromise and are open to reaching a resolution, it’s often a much better outcome for both sides rather than fighting it out.

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